Dobbs fills Nats’ need for veteran left-handed bat off bench

The Nationals needed a veteran left-handed hitter off the bench, and Greg Dobbs was out of work and looking for a job.

Four days after signing a minor league deal with the Nats, and after a few days of working to regain his timing in extended spring training at Viera, Fla., Dobbs is back in the majors. The Nationals selected his contract from Triple-A Syracuse earlier today and he’s in uniform for the opener of a three-game series against the Mets tonight.

“It’s been a whirlwind,” Dobbs said. “It’s the first time I’ve gone through something like this in my career. I’ve switched teams, but that’s always been in the winter. Midseason, to have a change like this, it was definitely interesting for my family and I.”

Dobbs, 35, is a career .262 hitter in 11 seasons with the Mariners, Phillies and Marlins. He was only 1-for-13 in 15 games before being designated by assignment by the Marlins earlier this month, but hits .247 with 10 homers and 75 RBIs as a pinch-hitter over his career.

“Professional hitter off the bench,” manager Matt Williams said of Dobbs. “Certainly been in that situation a lot. Can play multiple positions, although he didn’t do a lot of it with the Marlins. Plays first, plays third, can play the outfield. We don’t have necessarily the veteran presence of the bench left-handed right now. So we were able to get him, get him down to extended (spring training) for a few days and get him a few at-bats. Given that, we wanted him here.”

When he signed the minor league deal, Dobbs was happy to go to Viera, Fla., to get his legs under him. He hadn’t done anything but pinch-hit with the Marlins, and needed to get in games for more than an at-bat.

“I didn’t have a feeling how quickly anything would move,” Dobbs said. “I understood they would dictate that. I didn’t know what moves were being made, what moves needed to be made, how they were going to made - that was all out of my control. I didn’t want to focus on that. I just wanted to focus on where do they need me now, what do I need to do to prepare myself to be ready once the call came to come up and help the club. That was all I was focused on. ... Focusing on it that way kind of put my mind at ease.”

With first baseman Adam LaRoche on the disabled list with a quad injury, and Tyler Moore the only other natural first baseman on the 25-man roster, Dobbs could see some action at first base until LaRoche returns, Williams said.

Dobbs can also play third base and the corner outfield spots. But the Nationals seem more interested in how Dobbs can contribute off the bench.

“His timing seemed to be good in extended, just from getting regular at-bats,” Williams said. “He’s been in this situation a lot. He’s used to having days where he doesn’t get as many (at-bats), and keeping himself sharp. His timing got better and better the few days he was down there. We need a left-handed bat and he fits that mold for us. We’re happy to have him.”

Dobbs almost became a Nationals during the offseason before the 2012 campaign, but he and the Nats couldn’t agree on the length of a deal and he returned to the Marlins. He talked to several teams before agreeing to the minor league contract with the Nationals.

“I chose here because I wanted to sign here three years ago out of free agency,” he recalled. “Three years ago ..., I could see the makings and how special they could be. I could see they were very talented and I could see that winning was going to be in the near future with the team.”

With catcher Wilson Ramos healthy again, the Nats no longer needed to carry three catchers, so backstop Sandy Leon was dispatched to Triple-A Syracuse. The Nats made room on the 40-man roster by recalling outfielder Eury Perez from Syracuse and placing him on the 60-day disabled list with a fractured left toe.

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